Date/Time Event
Wednesday, 22nd January
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Not Working - why we have to stop, with Josh Cohen FULLY BOOKED

‘To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world.’ Oscar Wilde

More than ever before, we live in a culture that demonizes idleness. Work, connectivity and a constant flow of information are the norms, and a permanent busyness pervades even our quietest moments. Little wonder so many of us are burning out. In a culture that tacitly coerces us into blind activity, the art of doing nothing is disappearing. Inactivity can induce lethargy and indifference, but is also a condition of imaginative freedom.

Psychoanalyst Josh Cohen explores the pleasures of inactivity, and considers four faces of inertia – the burnout, the slob, the daydreamer and the slacker. Drawing on his personal experiences and on stories from his consulting room, while punctuating his discussions with portraits of figures associated with the different forms of inactivity – Andy Warhol, Orson Welles, Emily Dickinson and David Foster Wallace – Cohen gets to the heart of the apathy so many of us feel when faced with the demands of contemporary life, and asks how we might live a different and more fulfilled existence.

Josh Cohen teaches at Goldsmiths

Entry: £4.00 (£2.00 students) including refreshments. Let us know you are coming on

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Thursday, 23rd January
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Common People: an anthology of working-class writers - Five Leaves open book group

Common People, edited by Kit de Waal (Unbound, £9.99) is an anthology celebrating working class fiction, poetry and memoir…. from the woman at the bus stop, the hairdresser, the waiter… 33 established and emerging writers including Malorie Blackman, Daljit Nagra, Cathy Rentzenbrink and Anita Sethi have contributed to this anthology, indicating that of course that the modern working class is multi-cultural, which brings different dimensions to the story.

Five Leaves Book Group is open, so come as often as you like – once, sometimes, every time. There’s a short introduction to the book, followed by a discussion. You can source the book wherever you like, but in the lead up to the meeting we offer 15% discount on the title in question. All we ask is that you read the book in advance and be prepared to discuss it.

Our book groups are always free and refreshments are provided. Do let us know you are coming on


Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Monday, 27th January
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Five Leaves' open book group extra - Discourse on Colonisation, by Aime Cesaire

The short essay, Discourse on Colonialism was first published in French in 1955 and influenced a generation of scholars and activists in the liberation struggles in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Twenty years later, when published in English, it inspired a generation engaged in the Civil Rights, Black Panther and anti-war movements.

This session is introduced by Deanne Bell from Nottingham Trent University, who is part of the “What is Decoloniality?” project.

Five Leaves open book group discusses fiction and non-fiction, and is open to all to either attend one particular book discussion, come every now and again, or come every time! As well as our monthly general group, in 2020 we will have a Nottingham reading group and, like this one, a book group “extra” every now and again for weighty and topical subjects.

Book group books are available in advance at 15% discount, but we don’t mind how you source the books. All we ask is that you read the book in advance and take part in the discussion.

Free, refreshments provided. Please let us know you are coming on

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Thursday, 30th January
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Clever Girls: Autoethnographies of Class, Gender and Ethnicity FULLY BOOKED

Do join us to launch Clever Girls, with editor Jackie Goode and contributors Sarah Ward, Nell Farrell, Liz Thomas and Panya Banjoko

This collection by three generations of women from predominantly working-class backgrounds explores the production of the classed, gendered and racialized subject with powerful, engaging, funny and moving stories of transitions through family relationships, education, friendships and work.  The collection illustrates the potential of autoethnography as research method and creative practice to illuminate the commonalities of experiences of growing up as ‘clever girls’ and to sound a call to action against inequality and discrimination.

We will have copies of Clever Girls available at a very special discount tonight and in advance of the meeting.

Free, refreshments provided. Please let us know you are coming on

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Sunday, 2nd February
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Afternoon tea with Bertie

The philosopher and political activist Bertrand Russell died fifty years ago today.

We will celebrate his life with afternoon tea (something he favoured) with a talk on Russell, emphasising his connections to Nottingham.

Speaker: Tony Simpson (Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation), who will be joined by Tom Unterrainer (also BRPF) and Alva White who will talk about why Russell is worth reading today. We will also play some rare recordings of Bertie, so that he is with us on the day.

Tickets: £5 including tea and cake, and a complementary copy of The Spokesman journal – a special issue devoted to Bertrand Russell

Let us know you are coming on

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Monday, 3rd February
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Five weeks of anarchy, with Ruth Kinna FULLY BOOKED

Night school…

We invite you to a five session evening class, taught by Ruth Kinna. Full details to be announced soon, but sessions run weekly for five weeks.

The course will cover anarchism in history, in practice and internationally.

Ruth Kinna teaches at the University of Loughborough. She has edited and written a number of books on anarchism including The Government of No One: the theory and practice of anarchism and is on the editorial board of Anarchist Studies.

Cost – advance tickets £16.00 (£10.00 unwaged) for five sessions, or £4.00 (£3.00) unwaged per week. We would encourage you to sign up for the whole five sessions. Light refreshments provided.

Tickets available from the bookshop, or let us know you are coming on

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Tuesday, 4th February
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
The Island Child, with Molly Aitken

Twenty years ago, Oona left the island of Inis for the very first time. A wind-blasted rock of fishing boats and turf fires, where girls stayed in their homes until they became mothers themselves, the island was a gift for some, a prison for others. Oona was barely more than a girl, but promised herself she would leave the tall tales behind and never return.

The Island Child tells two stories: of the girl who grew up watching births and betrayals, storms and secrets, and of the adult Oona, desperate to find a second chance, only to discover she can never completely escape. As the strands of Oona’s life come together, in blood and marriage and motherhood, she must accept the price we pay when we love what is never truly ours …

Molly Aitken will be reading from her debut Irish novel and in conversation with Deirdre O’Byrne from Five Leaves Bookshop/Nottingham Irish Studies Group. Molly was born in Scotland in 1991 and brought up in Ireland. She studied Literature and Classics at Galway University.

Tickets: £4.00 (£2.00 students) including refreshments, and redeemable against any purchase on the night.

Please let us know you are coming on

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Wednesday, 5th February
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
It gets me home... writing about music with Ian Penman

When all else fails, when our compass breaks, there is one thing we can rely on: music.

Ian Penman is a legendary music critic and he will be reading from and talking about It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track, his first book for twenty years. His cast of characters includes James Brown, Elvis Presley, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra… he writes about black artists who were innovators and white musicians who copied them. He writes about a damaged America, its venality, its conformities, its racism.

Ian will be in conversation with former music journalist Graham Caveney, of this parish.

Tickets: £4 (£2 students) including refreshments. Please let us know you are coming on

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Wednesday, 12th February
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Shoestring poetry in translation night

Do join us for an evening of poetry in translation from Chinese, German and Italian

Matthew Barton  has created a new version of Rilke’s Duino Elegies which was a mountain of a work, a literary achievement that has enthralled and sometimes baffled its readers. Its author wrestled with it over more than ten years, finally completing it in a tumultuous creative ferment in 1922. It comes to new life in this edition by Matthew Barton,  poet and professional translator, who is attuned as much to its rhythms and music as its meanings, and seeks to recreate the molten flow of Rilke’s lines.

A selection of versions of poems by the great Italian poet, Eugenio Montale, by Leicester poet, Roy Marshall who has read from his own collections in the bookshop. Roy has been working on these translations for three years.







Martin Stannard has been publishing poetry and criticism for some 40 years. He was founding editor and publisher of joe’s soap’s canoe (1978–93) and poetry editor of Decals of Desire (2016–7).  His most recent full-length collection is Poems for the Young at Heart (Leafe Press) and a chapbook, Items, was published by Red Ceilings in August 2018. He taught at a university in China for more than a decade from 2005, during which time he began working on producing English language versions of poems from China’s classic Tang period.

Entry: £4.00 (£2.00 students) including refreshments. Please let us know you are coming on



Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Tuesday, 18th February
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Poetry from Helen Mort

Not quite sure how Helen Mort has not read in the shop before, but here she is now!

Helen Mort won the Foyles Young Poet of the Year *five* times before going on the write two collections for Chatto, Division Street – many of the poems reflect her background in the Yorkshire mining area – and No Map Could Show Them, the theme of which was on women and mountaineering.

Subsequently Helen has published one novel with Chatto, Black Car Burning, and a set of stories,  Exire, with Wrecking Ball. She lives in Sheffield and teaches creative writing at Manchester Met.

This is a Nottingham Poetry Society event.

Tickets: £4 (£2.00 students).  Reservations essential from

Refreshments provided

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Thursday, 20th February
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Japan Now, fiction from modern Japan

Tomihiko Morimi with Emily Balistieri and Kyoko Yoshida

Tomihiko Morimi’s magic-realist stories are a sensation in Japan, adapted for major anime films and now available in English for the first time – Penguin Highway, is a surreal foray into science fiction, and Night Is Short, Walk On Girl captures the magic of his native Kyoto.

Morimi will be in conversation with his translator, Emily Balistrieri at this event, which is chaired by Kyoko Yoshida, author of the novel Disorientalism, and herself a translator from English to Japanese.

As Japan prepares for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, we bring you the most unexpected, illuminating and inspiring stories from around the country. This is everything you won’t get from a travel guide. This is the third year in a row when we have been able to bring Japanese writers to the shop.

Readings in Japanese and in translation

In conjunction with Japan Now, and Modern Culture

Tickets: £5.00 (£4.00 students) including refreshments

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Tuesday, 25th February
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Poetry from Callie Gardner, Alan Baker, Jane Hartshorn


Alan Baker’s poetry is experimental, and both lyrical and political. He has read in the bookshop a number of times over the years. He lives in Nottingham, where he runs Leafe Press and the online magazine Litter.  His latest publications include Riverrun,  poetry about the Trent.

Photo: Sue Dymoke




Callie Gardner’s poetry is a blend of avant-garde rhetoric, utopian politics, and elemental alchemy.  Callie  edits the poetry magazine Zarf and its associated pamphlet press Zarf Editions. They run a weekly poetry circle at Glasgow’s LGBT bookshop, Category is Books.



Jane Hartshorn is interested in the relationship between chronic illness and sexuality.  Her poetic practice explores female embodiment in relation to cultural and social discourses of illness and wellbeing. She has had poems published in amberflora, Front Horse, Raum, and her pamphlet Tract was published by Litmus.

A Nottingham Poetry Exchange event

£4 (£2 students) including refreshments.

Please let us know you are coming on

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Thursday, 27th February
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Five Leaves open book group discusses Kintu by Jennifer Makumbi

The year is 1750, Kintu Kidda sets out for the capital to pledge allegiance to the new leader of the Buganda people.  Along the way he unleashes a curse that plagues his family for generations… Makumbi weaves together the story of Kintu’s descendants as they try to break free of that burden from their past.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist now living in Manchester and is a former winner of the Commonwealth Short Story prize.

Five Leaves’ book group is open, and no commitment is required other than reading the book under discussion. Attend one meeting, occasional meetings or them all… We don’t mind how you source the book but offer 15% discount on book group books in the lead up to the event.

Attendance is free, refreshments are provided. Let us know you are coming on

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Wednesday, 4th March
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Irish users of the British welfare system in the 19th century, with Deirdre O'Byrne

Throughout the 19th century, impoverished Irish people came to Britain seeking work – 200,000 alone as a result of the Great Famine (the “Irish potato famine”) of the 1840s, with a quarter of Liverpool residents being Irish born.

Many came to Nottinghamshire, often having been agricultural labourers in Lincolnshire.

Often there was no work, forcing Irish immigrants to go on the road, and throwing themselves on the mercy of the Poor Law Guardians and the workhouses.

In this talk Deirdre O’Byrne will draw on Poor Law and workhouse records to describe the situation of the Irish poor in Britain.

Deirdre O’Byrne teaches Irish and English literature at Loughborough University and is a member of staff at Five Leaves. Her research includes Southwell Workhouse.

This event is free and refreshments are provided. Please book via


A Nottingham Irish Studies event as part of Nottingham Irish Festival

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Thursday, 5th March
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Me and white supremacy, with Layla Saad

Layla Saad – in Britain for a short tour – focuses on the different manifestations of white supremacy, including white privilege, white fragility and white silence.  Her talk is targeted at anyone with white privilege, and explores how it can be dismantled.

Layla challenges people to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of colour, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

As an East African, Arab, British, Black, Muslim woman who was born and grew up in the West, and lives in Middle East, Layla has always sat at a unique intersection of identities from which she is able to draw rich and intriguing perspectives.

Entrance: £4.00 (students £2.00) including refreshments. Please let us know you are coming on


Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Sunday, 8th March
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
The World is for Everyone, with Nottingham refugee women

Join us to celebrate International Women’s Day with Nottingham Refugee Forum Women’s Group.

Members of the group will read from their Palewell Press collection, The World is for Everyone

The writing in this anthology is by members of PAMOJA Women Together – a group of refugee, asylum-seeking and irregular migrant women from many countries, faiths and backgrounds. PAMOJA means ‘together’ and ‘inclusive’ in Swahili. The World is for Everyone represents the voices, creative contributions and insights – written and spoken – of the PAMOJA Women Together Group, as these emerged through projects organized as part of Changing Wor(l)ds at Nottingham Trent University.  As well as poems, stories and photographs, there are recipes handed down from mother to daughter, carried across the world and recreated in the UK. These women speak of courage needed, pain overcome, puzzlement, patience, struggle, rejection and the ultimate triumph of the spirit.

Admission – free for refugees and asylum seekers, £4.00 (£2.00 students) for others, with all proceeds to Nottingham Refugee Forum, earmarked for refugee women.  Light refreshments provided.

Let us know you are coming on




Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Tuesday, 10th March
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Poetry from Peter Gizzi and Sarah Hayden

In 1995 Carcanet published The Exact Change Yearbook edited by Peter Gizzi, then at the beginning of his career. The issue featured writing by Gertrude Stein, Barbara Guest, John Wieners, Jack Spicer), J.H. Prynne  and other avant garde writers; it also featured portfolios of new writing from China, the Caribbean, Russia, Germany, Canada, and the UK, and a CD of readings by Ashbery, Brathwaite and Berrigan. This gives an indication of the breadth of poetic interests that informs Gizzi’s poetry. He is a remarkable poet, and thirty years of his work are in Sky Burial, published in February, essentialised for a new, and reconfigured for his long-term, readership. The book includes previously uncollected work.

Sarah Hayden is a writer and academic. Her poetry chapbooks are sitevisit (Materials), Turnpikes (Sad Press), System Without Issue (Oystercatcher) and Exteroceptive (Wild Honey). Other poems and lecture-poems have appeared in Blackbox ManifoldGolden Handcuffs ReviewTripwiredatableed and elsewhere. She also writes for artists and art events and is an AHRC ECR Leadership Fellow on the ‘Voices in the Gallery’ project (2019-2021).

A Nottingham Poetry Exchange event

Entrance £4.00 (£2.00 students). Please let us know you are coming on

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Wednesday, 11th March
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
An evening with Ian Duhig

Nottingham Irish Studies Group hosts an evening with Ian Duhig.

I Wouldn’t Start From Here is the first such book considering the second-generation Irish cultural experience from its writers’ viewpoints. The great difficulty the editors had in bringing it to any kind of publication is indicative of a neglect they don’t feel to be justified. Make your own mind up about one of its authors anyway when Ian Duhig reads from his contribution to this anthology and his other poetry, including that which reflects his work with the Irish (and other) communities in Leeds.
Ian Duhig has written seven books of poetry, most recently The Blind Roadmaker (Picador 2016), a PBS Recommendation shortlisted for the Forward Best Collection and TS Eliot Prizes. Duhig worked with the homeless for fifteen years before becoming a writer and has won the Forward Best Poem Prize once and the National Poetry Competition twice.

Part of Nottingham Irish Festival

Admission: £4.00 (£2.00 students). Book via

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Thursday, 12th March
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Poetry from Danez Smith

Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer from America. Danez is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead, winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collectionand [insert] boy,  the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry.  Danez’s third collection, Homie, is published this year.


“& colin kaepernick is my president, who kneels on the air bent toward a branch, throwing apples down to the children & vets & rihanna is my president, walking out of global summits with wine glass in hand, our taxes returned in gold to dust our faces into coins & my mama is my president, her grace stuntson amazing, brown hands breaking brown bread overmouths of the hungry until there are none unfed & my grandma is my president & her cabinet is her cabinet cause she knows to trust what the pan knows how the skillet wins the war” -from ‘my president’

Danez Smith is our President. A mighty anthem about the saving grace of friendship, Danez Smith’s highly anticipated collection Homie is rooted in their search for joy and intimacy in a time where both are scarce. In poems of rare power and generosity, Smith acknowledges that in a country overrun by violence, xenophobia and disparity, and in a body defined by race, queerness, and diagnosis, it can be hard to survive, even harder to remember reasons for living. But then the phone lights up, or a shout comes up to the window, and family – blood and chosen – arrives with just the right food and some redemption. Part friendship diary, part bright elegy, part war cry, Homie is written for friends: for Danez’s friends, for yours.

Admission: £6.00 (£4.00 those without a wage or on low wages) including refreshments

Booking essential via

Venue: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham
Tuesday, 17th March
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
The Letters Page presents Eimear McBride and Ruby Cowling

Eimear McBride is one of the most innovative and exciting writers at work today. In 2013 she won the Goldsmith’s Prize for her first novel,  A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. Lyrical, musical, and intensely raw, it also won that year’s Bailey’s Prize and she read from it at a memorable Five Leaves/Notts Libraries event in Beeston.  At this event she will read from her new novel, Strange Hotel, and talk about life, letters, and miniature toiletries.

Ruby Cowling first story was published in The Letters Page in 2014, and features in last year’s debut collection, This Paradise. She will join us to talk about truth, speculation, and speculative fiction.



This event is the second in a series of literary events presented by The Letters Page, the University of Nottingham’s literary journal in letters, and will be hosted by Jon McGregor.

Guests who have purchased dinner tickets should arrive from 6pm with last orders at 7.15; the stage event will begin at 8pm. Tickets cost £15 including dinner, £7 without.

Peggy’s Skylight is a licensed premises
Venue: Peggy’s Skylight, Nottingham
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